The coronavirus has the potential to transform technology, operations, passenger flow and the materials used within ferry and cruise ships
At the time of writing (April), passenger ships across the world are laid up and times are extremely difficult for operators. Losses incurred by the ferry industry due to Covid-19 are expected to reach billions of dollars, Interferry has warned, and is calling for government financial aid packages.
Carnival Corp, the biggest cruise operator in the world, has raised US$6.4Bn in funding in April to ride out the coronavirus (see our cruise news feature in this issue). When asked at a recent press teleconference, its executive director Arnold Donald also alluded to newbuild timelines being delayed. Indeed, many shipbuilding and refurbishment projects are likely to be delayed worldwide across the passenger ship industry.
But despite the huge challenges and difficulties the passenger ship industry is facing, there are positive signs about its flexibility. MSC Cruises’ ferry arm, GNV, has converted its Splendid ferry into a hospital to help with Covid-19 efforts. RINA worked very closely with the company, and, as our feature explores, has also launched its new Biosafety Trust Certification, the first management system certification aimed at mitigating the spread of infections in public places and to provide greater health and safety.
This I believe is important for the passenger ship industry. Future viruses can be prevented by implementing simple measures.
And post Covid-19, efforts to prevent future virus spreads will lead to product innovation in the passenger ship industry. We have already seen new products being developed – for example, cruise industry vendor MRD Lighting is developing prototypes to combat airborne and surface-transmitted viruses on board ships.
This is just the start of a product innovation trend. There will also be a push to use new antimicrobial products. Ventilation and HVAC solutions and processes could also see changes and innovation in a bid to prevent the spread of viruses.
In the short term, it could lead to new ways of carrying out work, such as within the repair and refurbishment sector. In the first of Cruise Ship Interiors Expo’s weekly Cruise Conversions webinars, it was suggested there could be more opportunities to carry out smaller repair projects in service, as there may be more room for contractors on board as cruise ships start up their operations again. This would be an efficient and cost-effective way of boosting maintenance.
The passenger ship industry will come through this time and have the flexibility to adapt and transform its processes to a new normal. And the innovations the Covid-19 pandemic could lead to is a future positive among the difficulties of this time.
Riviera will host a series of 45-minute webinars on subjects ranging from maritime propulsion to vessel optimisation, ballast water management, maritime air pollution and maritime leaders among many others commencing 5 May 2020. Find a list of the webinars and register your interest now